Kalyan is Rajnath?s millstone
BJP president Rajnath Singh has his hands full with Kalyan Singh.india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 01:54 IST
BJP president Rajnath Singh has his hands full with Kalyan Singh. After having made the party squirm in discomfiture by complimenting Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister has now raised heckles by his fulsome praise of expelled leader Uma Bharti.
Kalyan, who like Uma Bharti belongs to the backward Lodh community, described the BJP rebel as his younger sister and a mass leader. He also backed Uma's demand for OBC and Dalit quotas within the proposed 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures — which flies in the face of the BJP's opposition to a quota within quota.
In an interview to a television channel, Kalyan said, “She (Uma) is an emotional girl. She has played in my lap. As a younger sister, my blessings are always with her. I have great regard for her as a sanyasin.” Uma's recent 700-km-long Ram-Roti yatra from Bhopal to Ayodhya is ample proof “she is a mass leader”, he said.
Not surprisingly, Kalyan's comments have the Rajnath camp fuming. Given that Uma had slammed Rajnath's leadership during her public addresses in UP, Kalyan's endorsement of the sanyasin is a clear signal of the rift between the two UP leaders.
This is not the first time that Kalyan has challenged the party president's authority. He had refused to take forward Rajnath's Nyay Yatra citing health reasons. And even when Rajnath drove to his residence last Sunday to persuade him to take charge of the UP state unit, Kalyan spurned the offer. Rajnath's praise of Kalyan's tenure as chief minister also did not cut any ice, BJP insiders say.
Even before Rajnath took over as BJP chief, Kalyan had fired his first salvo. At the Mumbai convention last month, Kalyan made light of Rajnath's call to keep criminals out of politics, asking what prevented BJP leaders from denying tickets to those with criminal background.
Rajnath has retained Kalyan as one of the party vice-presidents, but past bitterness and the latter's readiness to embarrass the party chief makes him the BJP president's biggest challenge.